Denny Stephenson's Two Theories On Marvin Musquin versus Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac Following 2019 Indianapolis SX


Lucas Oil Stadium Indianapolis, IN Indianapolis Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship

I usually just throw some words together and post them on Instagram, but tonight I have a theory. And poor Weege can only write and podcast so much, so here I am to help. Well done Saturday Marvin Musquin. You flipped the tables in Indy: got the start and throughout the 20-minute main you continued to reinvent yourself as the track broke down. Corners became more fluid. You didn't allow Blake Baggett’s charge to get into your head and you got yourself your first win of the season and made up some points on your teammate. But now I'm going to suggest something that might sound wild: Cooper Webb still owned you and the night with his third.

I say this with a direction and some huge love for the #25. Let me remind you last summer at Millville, the KTM golf cart, filled with a couple of mechanics along with Marvin and his wife, landed in our pits because our JGR friends waved them over. Marvin ended up playing bags with two of my friends’ sons that evening and absolutely made three kids dreams they will never forget. I walked over to thank him for being such a gracious hero to group of motorhomes and fans in the pits. He went on to explain that he enjoys his Friday nights at the nationals and having the opportunity to just be a racer and say hi. I asked if he had a bus and stayed at the track like a few riders do. His answer was, and I still smile about it to this day, in his perfect French accent he says, "I have a bus, but I do not drive the bus." I couldn't help but laugh as I thanked him again for making the kids’ weekend and wished him good luck.

My point of that story is, Marvin is not an assassin. Hannah: Prick, but nonetheless a killer. Stanton: Bullet in their head. Bradshaw: Piss on your grave. LaRocco: He will hunt you down. Villopoto: Will hate life so he can destroy you on the weekend. 

Indianapolis was Marvin Musquin's first win of 2019.
Indianapolis was Marvin Musquin's first win of 2019. Rich Shepherd

My friend sent me a video this week. It was the latest Red Bull installment of Moto Spy from the Baker’s Factory. The best practicing daily with the best. I loved and appreciated it. I grew up and spent most my professional career in Nebraska, chasing my best friends around several days a week. They were local A riders at best but passionate individuals of the sport we all love. We would all throw our bikes in our trucks and vans and meet at whatever track or random spot of land we had discovered that year.

In the early '90s with factory Suzuki, our preseason test track was at Adelanto and made out of sand. Seriously. The entire track was a 50 second track made of sand that dissolved within an hour of practice. That’s what we did for supercross. After a week of testing, they gave each of us a pipe and a head with some suspension settings and said good luck. That was the Suzuki factory team in ‘91. I didn't know any better, and we went racing my rookie 250 season. 

What KTM and Aldon have created is the way it should have been done for years. But without getting too far into that and wasting more of your time, KTM and the Baker's Factory are making the weaker better while using and exposing the dominant. Marvin Musquin does not need Aldon and his team training. Jason Anderson was a loveable misfit until Aldon. Webb was lost until he arrived last fall. And they have both keyed off of Marvin as their goal and focal point. Watch Webb this season anytime he has the 25 in front or behind of him. He knows exactly how to ride and react, because he’s spent a thousand laps practicing with him. My theory is that Musquin was already at that level. He was already ahead of the game. But he's not an assassin and was willing to be corporate, which only made his competition stronger. Jason Thomas has written about Dean Wilson winning the 2011 250 MX title by stating Deano had forged his steel sword in fire by practicing every day with Chad Reed and other fast 450 guys. It made Dean better—this happens all the time. The Frenchman needs to step away and stop being the example for his competition, because they’re not only catching him, they’re beating him far too often. 

The Red Bull KTM teammates have battled back-and-forth all season.
The Red Bull KTM teammates have battled back-and-forth all season. Jeff Kardas

So here we are again. Eli fresh off another dominating win, where he crushed Daytona like we all assumed he would. Then once again his evil doppelganger Elito Mac hits the stage in Indy. How does this happen? How does someone of his talent, speed, and work ethic continuously seem to fold when the weight of the world is on his shoulders? I have passionately followed and studied this sport since the late '70s. When I was a kid, I got results a month after the fact or ran home on Mondays to get the latest Cycle News in the mail. Since then I’ve followed every aspect of the sport, and I have never seen anything like the anomaly that is Eli Tomac. At first I simply gave him shit for bailing on the MXoN. But this has snow balled into a life of its own. My PulpMX Show friend Steve Matthes said it best: "Motocrossers are dainty little flowers who can fold at any minute." 

Absolute fact. We're only as good as our last race in most of our minds. I will never forget one freezing-ass winter weekend in the middle of Kansas. Jeff Emig was my nemesis at the time. We were 13-year-old kids and didn’t know anything other than what our dads told us, which was, "Don't let that kid beat you." Lol! Fro and I still laugh about it to this day! Our dads swept a hundred feet in front of our gates each moto that day trying to each give their sons the initial upper hand. Well that Sunday, Emig, that sum bitch, holeshot me every dam moto. And I chased him an inch off his rear wheel all five of six motos, and ate his roost all day. By the last moto of that day, which occurred when it was literally like 30 degrees out, I had enough when he squeezed me out with his final holeshot of the day.

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I mentally said, "eff it." And I just rode around behind him and mentally quit. When I got back to our van afterwards, I received the most gnarly abusive speech ever from my dad. He’s a Vietnam vet, mind you, with a mentality I still try to understand. But I can’t. He yelled at me, "You never quit! What if he made a mistake and you weren't there to capitalize on it?!" Fro and I can look back and laugh, we became family because of those experiences. But those 30-degree winters in nowhere Kansas made us the racers we later became. I eventually got hurt and decided I liked having more fun while chasing girls and destroying hotel rooms. Fro went on to become a Hall of Famer who I love and admire. 

My point is, history will always dictate in moto, when you're on you're on. That’s the easy part. But when the curtain of Oz is pulled back and all is revealed, you will fail. It's why in moto no one admits pain or injury because that is a sign of weakness. And yet despite all of his success, our sport has a future Hall of Famer in the #3, who still has no idea from week to week how incredibly talented and great he is. Elito is still that lost kid some weekends is trying not to fail rather than own and embrace the moment that should be his.